Business advice for startups in the UK: What every startup must do to grow fast.
Business Startup — fast growth
There are enough information sources and advice out there about how to grow your business startup fast and in this article, I am going to keep things very simple and personal.
I will share with you how I got my business off the ground and set the scene for fast growth that would see my company develop from very humble beginnings into a multi-million global company in just a few short years.
My business started in the living room of my apartment in London and you can read the full story in my article “How I started my first business from a living room in London.”
And the scene for that growth was set very early and there were three simple, main components:
- My mindset.
- My business idea.
- The execution of my idea in the first three months.
I love to read and learn as much as possible, but I prefer real-life stories in the world of business as in that way, I can try to get some inspiration from someone else and apply it to what I am doing and that is why I am sharing a little of my story here.
Rapidly growing companies is a passion and speciality for me, it allows me to be at my “disruptive best” and I relish the challenge of going into new markets and winning market share from the “big boys” and established companies.
It doesn’t matter if your business is online, offline or both as the principles will always be the same, but the difference will be the delivery and support methods.
The chart above shows a nice visual — and you should keep it in mind when you start and don’t worry about the dips in the chart as it is a dynamic stock chart that will move in relation to the perception of the share price and the company behind the chart, cannot control those dynamic movements.
But the chances are that if you are reading this, you are a startup that is maybe aiming to be on the stock market one day, or in any event, you want to be the best you can be.
Every business owner wants to grow their startup fast…it’s only natural.
Business is all about innovation and whether you are about to -re-invent the wheel or take someone else’s ideas and make them better, so look at your startup as truly innovative and then evangelize that innovation to the world!
That’s the best advice I can give you to get this article started and put you in the mood for fast business growth.
Also, don’t be frightened to “go backward” to move forward — many of the real business “secrets” are decades old and trust me, the business world is Clyclycle, just like fashion and to give you an example, many copywriters for example, still use the ideas today, of the man who was termed the “Father or advertising,” David Ogilvy.
Whatever you do, keep an open mind and never stand still — the best entrepreneurs and businessmen are continually striving to be ahead of the game and they want to be able to know where the market is going and to “be there first.”
That is how you create the “Wow” factor with your clients — it is as simple as that and you do not need to buy some online course, or listen to another guru to master this. You have to apply logic and common sense, so let me get started with one of the most important factors for business growth — the mindset, but before I go into it, I want to give you a little warning:
Business growth is a double-edged sword — grow it correctly and you have the makings of building a hugely successful and profitable company.
Grow it incorrectly and you can go bust in a heartbeat!
You see…it’s that simple…and of course, everything else in between…and that’s the fun part!
If you can find a business coach and mentor, then get one — I had access to a limited amount of people as there were not that many business coaches around at the time, but I was lucky to have a couple who really inspired me and put me on track.
I remember having long conversations on the phone most Saturdays, much to the annoyance of my girlfriend at the time, but I was obsessed with getting started and not just growing my company but making it the best it could possibly be.
I talk more about mentoring in this article — “How mentoring can help your entrepreneurial journey.”
So let’s get started.
Business advice for startups
Make sure you have the mindset for growth
I was obsessed with my business, to say the least, and you should be too.
And it all starts with having the right mindset and I talk more about that here — “How having the right mindset helps entrepreneurs build thriving companies.”
In today’s volatile and uncertain economy, you need to make sure you have every competitive edge at your disposal, so start with an easy one…obsession.
There was no Internet at the time and research was hard and involved the local library and a friend of mine who had a technology background and this was the guy who I would spend Saturday evenings talking non-stop on the phone.
He taught me to look deep into the market and go to the source of everything in the world — money.
So I started looking deep into the financial sector, working out where the money was being invested and then tracking the expectations of those investments from the companies that the money was being invested in.
I had a ready-made client base consisting of the manufacturers of the equipment and the operators who would use it to sell services to the public.
Research is a great way to build academic discipline — just as important as physical discipline.
The next piece of advice was to contact and connect with these companies (who were huge corporations) at the CEO/Executive Leadership level and in my friend’s words:
“If you are not engaged at the top, then you are wasting your time.”
This was a daunting prospect for me to say the least, but I knew I had to simply ignore the fear and just get on with it.
We would then talk about having the mindset to succeed and that meant firstly to have an open one, to be receptive to ideas, suggestions and then to get out there and do it!
The other thing we would discuss would be to have a “never quit” attitude, and only quit doing the things that are not working, and to also have a passion for what I did.
I was very passionate about business news in general and also selling. My technology passion was to come from the research I started to conduct and all of a sudden, the three aspects gelled together.
Business startups and martial arts
Now I know much more about developing the mind today simply because I have had more time to learn how to do it, but the key according to my friend and Internal Martial Arts master, Chris Ray Chappell, is to first start with the body.
At the time, I was spending every Saturday where possible, training with one of the worlds greatest Martial Artists Steve Morris and the sessions were around 4-6 hours long and Morris was not only an exceptional martial artist but an exceptional thinker, a deep researcher who had amassed so much knowledge over the years and about so many subjects.
Physically he was probably the strongest man I have ever met, considering he weighed twelve stone, moved like a cat and could hit like a sledgehammer. the words ‘martial artist’ doesn’t really do him the justice he deserves.
He shaped my thinking, developed my ability to question everything, to be the best and to put in more work than everyone else — he would literally train all day, every day and I am not exaggerating here one bit.
Morris explained that when he was in training in Japan, he would often go without food, simply because he had no money, but still trained with a total commitment.
Can you imagine the formula for his success — a total obsession, a mind that Einstein would have been proud of and a supreme work ethic.
I strived for the same and it didn’t matter how good I was, because simply getting into that mindset made me way better than I was — learn from this!
After my martial arts sessions, I would go to visit my friend, who ran a pub nearby (that’s how I met him) and talk for a couple of hours, drive an hour or so home and then after dinner call and speak to him again!
Little did I know that I was building the foundations for my business success — long physical training sessions, learning about martial arts, developing the body and mindest — then learning about the world of business and all in one day!
I couldn’t wait to put this into action.
In any event, you have to develop the right mindset as you are going to be tested when you grow your startup and beyond your normal limits, so start to prepare for it.
Many entrepreneurs simply don’t have the right mindset for success and I see this so much in my business coaching and mentoring so make sure you don’t fall into that category.
I’m not suggesting you have to be a martial artist by the way — just take the “spirit” of what I have said and apply it into your own life.
Fast business growth — your business idea
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel with your business idea and it doesn’t have to even be a new one.
Take my idea, for example, I started a specialist staffing agency serving the telecommunications industry — it was hardly a groundbreaking idea and there were loads of other companies doing the same, plus loads more starting out like myself.
I had gained valuable experience in the staffing sector because I had worked in it and I knew there was a way to deliver a better service.
The traditional staffing agency model was to phone up companies endlessly, trying to persuade them to give you any vacancies they had and I saw this as a low-value service because although staffing companies would help them find staff, they added little more value other than being brokers or simply introducers — sitting in the middle between companies looking for people and people looking for companies.
I knew I could do something better and offer a service that would add much more value.
Most of the companies attracted potential candidates through advertising and added them to a database — they would sell the size of that database to companies looking for talent and now you can see the reference to the term “broker.”
I wanted to reverse the process — I would go out and find a handful of talented engineers and then represent them to companies who they wanted to work for and who also would best use, develop and challenge their skills and also give them an insight into the culture of the best companies, through my previous and constant research.
It was that simple.
My message to the companies was that I would connect them with the best hand-picked talent in the market, who had already understood the culture of their company and the companies loved it!
So look at your business and don’t overcomplicate things, the answer to growing your business fast, may well be lying right underneath your nose and simply involve offering a better and more strategic service than your competition.
I would always suggest that you look at your competitors and start with the largest companies — I did and I saw that they were too “corporate” in their thinking and the way they worked.
They were not agile in their operation, whereas I could pivot in a heartbeat and I knew I could beat them on those factors without thinking about anything else.
Keep it simple!
Business startup advice — execute!
Now, this may surprise you — I didn’t have a business plan…I had an overwhelming desire to start a business and I figured the “plan” would come later.
Now I am not suggesting for one second that you skip the business planning stage because you shouldn’t, but I am simply telling you what my mindset was when I started, and it probably came down to my martial arts belief that it is your desire to defend yourself and your intent to fight back, that is far more important than the skills that you’ve acquired.
During my life, I have seen and heard of many trained and high-ranking martial artists who have got beaten in regular encounters out on the streets and in the business world, I have seen many companies go under with highly qualified and experienced owners/executives at the helm.
You must have a serious intent behind all of your knowledge, desires and your actions.
Your intent is extremely powerful — just think of those situations where people perform superhuman tasks such as lifting a car off an injured person.
It is purely down to intent and mine was fuelled by kryptonite!
I literally mapped out each day for the first twelve weeks and it simply looked like this:
- Get up as early as possible and workout — I was a martial artist and soon to start competitive Olympic Weightlifting.
- Solid hard and consistent work throughout the day and no thought about lunch breaks or any break for that matter.
- Reflect and research throughout the evening and making sure that I was on target for the next day.
It was a case of “excess must equal success” and I didn’t care about burnout, getting tired or anything else, just going all out during the first three months.
The only “treats” I allowed myself were the gym (they opened early) coupled with training and a meal out on Saturday night if I wasn’t talking to my friend.
let me go into a bit more detail:
The workout part was very important to me as I combined heavy weight-training with aerobics but on different days and 7 days a week — no “off days.”
It was all about being disciplined.
The heavy weight-training days would allow me a brief respite from the world of business as I had to concentrate — the sessions were short, intense and hard work.
The aerobic days would involve longer sessions and up to an hour, but here I would let all of my business thoughts and ideas come out and they would have more clarity.
You don’t have to do what I did, but you can create your own program and it may be to get out and go for a brisk walk 3-4 days a week and simply lay down and meditate on the others.
You get the idea.
After working out I had a shower and breakfast — food was kept simple and I pretty much ate the same things every day because I didn’t have to think about what to eat and I often pre-prepared my food so I could work more.
My day was spent on the phone talking to clients st the highest executive levels and finding the very best potential candidates to market to those clients and the candidates came first as without them I couldn’t make the client calls for my style of operating.
On weekends, I would be training from around 09:00 – 14:00 on Saturdays and then going to see my friend in his pub to pick his brains and share ideas. I would have a meal out with my girlfriend on Saturday nights and then Sundays were spent in the gym for early morning and long (90 mins) aerobic session and then more research!
Now I will tell you that I was not that impressed with my results after twelve weeks — they were not anywhere near my performance as an employee or salespeople who had worked underneath me when I saw a sales director.
I had generated some invoices, but although they were in effect “cash” and I would see the benefit, they were hardly the amounts I was used to.
What I hadn’t understood was how strong a foundation I had constructed — getting out of my comfort zone and contacting senior business executives of extremely large corporations had paved the way for my future success.
I had been able to reach no actual CEO’s but many of the leadership team and that led to many more introductions lower down in the corporate hierarchy and it was like a spiders web with me focussing intently on the center and working outward, but by default of the fact that I had started in the center.
You should do exactly the same and here’s why:
If I had not met my friend on those visits to his pub on those long Saturdays, I would have followed the path that most staffing agencies in my space would have followed — that of contacting the people who actually awarded the business to companies like mine.
It is totally logical and you may think I was crazy not to do it — but my friend was a great salesman in his role before he bought his pub and also a technology specialist.
He totally convinced me that you have to “rise above the noise” and start to talk strategically, work pro-actively and most importantly to have an opinion.
Executive leaders are there to run companies, just like any business owner and they are as hungry for their success as you are for yours — one reason that you should talk to them because you have a lot in common.
Most of the lower-level employees will not have anything in common with you and that is why they are working, No disrespect to them because they may well end up as executive leaders, where their mindset will change…but most don’t.
I should also mention that whilst I was frantically engaging these people, my competitors were sucking up the majority of the business right underneath me and here is where my friend’s advice came into play once more…
Play the long game.
Let the others chase after the day-to-day, while you secure the future!
That is where I had effectively secured my future as I was now working in anticipation — talking strategically to the very people who had to take an interest and you should do the same.
I hope this story inspires you to take action and define your own — the business world is wide open and full of opportunities for those who want to take them, just remember to keep things simple and constantly work on your mindset and execution.
I tell my three children each and every day, that everything comes down to:
- Hard work
Enjoy your dreams and aim high in them — now turn them into reality and that is where the “hard work” and “dedication” come into play.
If you want startup advice for business to help to grow your business startup in any way whatsoever, then just get in touch with me and let me explain to you how I can help you!